A Libertarian Perspective

The libertarian perspective is that peace, prosperity, and social harmony are fostered by “as much liberty as possible” and “as little government as necessary.” *

The nature of libertarianism

Few people understand the true nature of libertarianism. Rather than legislating morality (which major political parties do), they have a different approach. Libertarians take into account how people actually are rather than how people should be. The law of unintended consequences is often at play with the latter.

There are common misunderstandings I see about libertarians. For one thing, not all of us want to smoke pot and not pay our taxes. Most of us acknowledge the importance of taxes in general. They should only be used more efficiently by eliminating unnecessary government spending.

Libertarians have different opinions on how limited government should actually be and what programs are necessary. Libertarianism is not about eliminating government altogether. Some people who want the elimination of government might call themselves libertarians, but in reality, they are anarchists. Libertarianism is about having as little government as necessary, which would be a relatively small government. Some government programs are necessary and always will be.

Morals and politics

A libertarian can be against something morally (e.g., prostitution, gambling, or drugs), but not feel it should be made illegal, only at most regulated to ensure no one’s getting hurt (like selling drugs to kids). I sometimes argue that smoking cannabis tends to make people unmotivated and less intelligent, and people ask how I can think that while calling myself a libertarian. This is a common misunderstanding of what libertarianism is about. I am for legalizing and regulating cannabis because doing so brings great benefits and outlawing it causes many problems. For one thing, the taxes collected on it can fund many programs, including ones that can help people get off of it (if they so choose).

I also explain to people that you can be a good Christian yet also support libertarian principles. Outlawing behaviors simply because they are immoral can end up being altogether worse for society, and people should not be forced to follow an objective moral code. I do not see how it goes against God’s will to not regulate morality. After all, it is the belief of Christians that to follow the path to God is a choice, and God already knows the decision you have made from before you were born.

Examples of government policies

There are some government policies that end up doing more harm than good. This is just a few of them.

Government assistance

Programs that provide assistance when needed are necessary, but quite often they are abused and cause problems. I have seen this first-hand ever since I was a child.

Someone I knew was on welfare cash aid and had been for many years. If he went back to work for minimum wage, he would have only been making a couple of dollars more per hour than what he was making with cash assistance, and since he was not willing to work for slightly more than what he made with welfare, he chose to not work at all.

One man I know has been on welfare pretty much his entire life. Only one time did he have a full-time job and this lasted less than 10 years. He has barely scraped by, despite having had multiple kids. He has always been in a shared living situation, the money he makes is sometimes enough to pay his part, and food stamps are enough to feed him and his kids. Since all of his basic needs are taken care of, he has no motivation for anything more, despite being able-bodied.

To combat such problems, welfare programs should only be temporary for those who are able-bodied. Incentivizing people to not work is not good for anyone and keeps people in poverty.

Rent control

Rent control is the government regulation of rent. It includes the cap on periodic rent increases.

This is only a few consequences of rent control:

  • Takes away the rights of property owners to set the price for their property
  • Declining housing conditions because landlords are less incentivized to upgrade units
  • Lowers the availability of rental units
  • Sometimes benefits only high-income residents
  • Less taxes are collected, which would otherwise benefit society in other areas

Single-parent homes

Welfare is known to incentivize single-parent households, the effects of which are highly underrated. Such programs give welfare recipient parents a larger check if the other parent does not live in the home. The law of unintended consequences in this case is that a lot of mothers will not allow the father to live at home in order to receive a bigger check. This has caused many children from poor families to grow up without the active presence of a father figure. Lack of strong father figures has caused a lot of problems for generations now.

Children with a present, engaged father figure in their life are:

  • Less likely to drop out of school
  • Less likely to wind up in jail
  • Less likely to have sex at an early age
  • Tend to avoid high-risk behaviors
  • Tend to have higher IQ test scores by the age of three
  • Endure fewer psychological problems throughout life
  • More likely to have high-paying jobs
  • More likely to have healthy, stable relationships

The “father effect” describes the benefits of having a present father figure in a child’s life.

To combat the problem of father figures not being present and engaged in the lives of their children, a father living at home should not be considered when calculating a mother’s monthly welfare payment. That does not necessarily mean she should get the lesser amount of when he is not present. The benefits of a present father figure in the home would have profound long-term benefits.

Conclusion

So, how does this all apply to libertarianism? It all boils down to implementing policies that account for the way people actually are rather than the way they should be.

The law of unintended consequences is at play with so many government policies. We have to start taking these into account and have policies that actually benefit people rather than those that harm them.

References

How Welfare Undermines Marriage and What to Do About It

The Science of Dad and the ‘Father Effect’

*What is Libertarian?

Rent Control: The Pros & Cons


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